In his online monthly newsletter, called “What's That You're Doing” on his official website (PaulMcCartney.com), Paul McCartney looked back to Wings' February 1975 recording sessions for Venus And Mars down in New Orleans. McCartney has just announced the April 5th re-release of Live On The Queen Mary, by Professor Longhair — the legendary “Big Easy” musician who performed at the album's wrap party on board the Queen Mary docked in Long Beach, California. The set, which was originally presented by Paul and Linda McCartney back in 1978, will be available across digital platforms, on CD, and on newly remastered 180-gram vinyl LP.
McCartney went on to talk about spending time with Professor Longhair while Wings was in New Orleans recording Venus And Mars, recalling, “We just loved him and we invited him around the studio because I was ripping him off! I just loved the style so much that I composed something called 'My Carnival' and it’s got the same riff, basically, that he plays. I just couldn’t play it as well! But it’s the bass line definitely (sings Professor Longhair-style bass line). It was very similar. So I thought, well I can’t just rip him off and have him find out about it and think, ‘Oh, he’s just ripped me off!' So I’ll invite him to the session and be honest about it! So I did and said: 'Hey listen, you’ve totally influenced me, but I’ve done this song.' And one of the nice things about where we were recording was Sea-Saint Studios. . . you’d rope (people) in on the track and it would turn into a bit of a party. So, that’s where we knew him from, Professor Longhair.”
“Macca” shed light on the legendary “Hollywood”-style bash he threw upon the album's completion: “When we finished Venus And Mars even though the album didn’t have a 'New Orleans sound' the flavour of us being there for so long is in there. For me, when I think of the album, I think of New Orleans. So, we were going to have a launch party and I was looking around for something interesting, something exciting for us to do. And I heard that the Queen Mary — the old, original Queen Mary — was now in Long Beach, which is just outside L.A. . . and was available for functions. You could hire it, you could hire the big ballroom.”
He went on to add: “So we think, ‘Oh, well that’s perfect! We should do that and we should have a guest-list with all the L.A. celebs and people like this’. Which meant it was a pretty cool guest-list! So we're thinking, 'Oh, who’s going to entertain? Well, our favourites are currently the Meters and Professor Longhair.' So we asked the Meters if they would back him and if he was happy to play with them. And everyone was happy. So that’s what we did: we booked them for the party! And then we thought, 'Well, this is an opportunity not to be missed. We should record it 'cause they’re such favourite artists of ours!' So again, we asked if they minded being recorded, which they didn’t, they were very happy to do that. And so we got this record out of it, which was very exciting.”
Out now is the new photo essay book by author John Taylor, called Wings Over New Orleans. Through never-before-seen fan snapshots of Paul McCartney & Wings, Taylor — with the help of other die-hards on the scene — chronicled the group's visit to New Orleans between January 16th and February 24th, 1975. Paul and Linda McCartney, along with the classic lineup of Wings — guitarists Denny Laine, Jimmy McCulloch, and newcomer, drummer Joe English — were holed up at Sea Saint Studios recording the majority of that year’s chart-topping Venus And Mars album.
John Taylor set the scene for his first encounter with the McCartney's: “They told me he was comin' to do his album in New Orleans and I was gonna find out where that was gonna be, but like I said; I figured it would be limousines, security guards, news people all over. So, I pulled in the parking lot of Sea Saint Studios and I was trying to get up enough nerve to knock on the door, 'cause I was like 20, 21 years-old and didn't want to look like a big nerd. So, I decided not to do it, actually, and I started the car and I put it in gear and a car pulled on the side of me and I glanced over and it just did not make any sense to me in my head, 'cause it was Paul and Linda sittin' in the car next to me. And they kinda looked over and waved at me. (And I was) going 'Holy mackerel, man, it don't make sense!'”
Taylor, who lived close to the studios, which were in a mellow suburban part of town, was in luck seeing as how Sea Saint was practically around the corner from where his then-girlfriend lived. He told us it was a dream come true to be able to hang out with McCartney during his recording breaks, and is still amazed at how kind and down to Earth both Paul and Linda were: “It was me, him and Linda the first day, and the next day there was, y'know, two other guys — and there was just us three for, y'know, a few days. And it never did get a big, big crowd. Near the end (of the sessions) you might've got 25, 30 people. But, it was never a lot of news media and security guards and that kind of stuff. He was very relaxed. And he drove to the studio in a convertible an he drove around the city like that.”
To order John Taylor's Wings Over New Orleans, log on to http://bit.ly/1aM4LHs